Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Worst. List. Ever. Best Minnesota Athletes of the Decade 2000-2009

This was way back in December, but maybe you saw the Pioneer Press' list of the best Minnesota athletes of the decade past. Best athletes. Worst list. I responded with the following letter to the editor.

"Wow. Your Sports Men of the Decade (Sunday, December 27, 2009) is the worst list ever. Brett Favre has been a Minnesotan for five months. Lindsay Whalen, Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell have been Minnesotans and active in their sports for ten years, and all three took Minnesota sports teams to heights they had never before achieved. Lindsay Vonn has been the greatest skier in the world for two years. The Gopher women played in four Final Fours—basketball once, volleyball thrice.

Don’t get me wrong. This letter is not about women. (You also missed on J Robinson, whose coaching accomplishments far outstrip anything Ron Gardenhire, Jacques Lemaire and Kevin McHale have ever done.) It’s about sports, and sporting events and stories and athletes who mattered in the 2000s, except apparently at the Pioneer Press. Where were you guys? Not in my world."

Just for the record, the PiPress list consisted of 10 men who worked for the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild, and that's it. Now, that is just ignorant. So, what was happening in my world? This is what was happening in my world.

Best Minnesota Athletes 2000-2009

1. Lindsay Whalen. Nobody played his or her sport with more flair, nor drew more kids to their sport. All of those 3rd and 4th and 5th grade girls from 2002-2003-2004 are high school age today, and maybe you've seen how good Minnesota high school girls ball is now. Thanks, Lindsay, and welcome home.

2. Joe Mauer. Joe was the PiPress' #1 pick, and it's hard to argue with that after 3 batting titles and the 2009 AL MVP Award. And, don't forget, he was the high school player of the year in football as well as baseball at Cretin back in 2001.

3. Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell. High school. Gophers. U.S. Olympic team. They've excelled at every level. Minnesota will not see the likes of these two again.

4. Kevin Garnett. The holes in KG's game have become well known over the years, and people are more willing to acknowledge them now that he's no longer one of us. Still, he was probably one of the top 10 players in the world at his peak. The fact that the Wolves' "brain trust" couldn't even begin to put the pieces around him speaks powerfully to their ineptitude.

5. Adrian Peterson. Running backs can break down really really fast in the NFL, and so AP's best days may already be behind him. But in the beginning, he looked like the second coming of Sweetness, Walter Payton, and Jimmy Brown, all rolled up into one.

6. Lindsay Vonn. The world's greatest skier and an SI swimsuit model on top of it.

7. Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau. Torii certainly not as good as he thought, and Morneau not really an MVP caliber player--at least, not then. Maybe now. But all-stars, yes, deserving all-stars and that ain't bad.

8. Brock Lesnar. What a specimen.

9. Thomas Vanek. Gopher hockey has never been the same since he left. And you thought it was Luccia.

10. Johan Santana. Pretty good pitcher but, really, who needs 'em?

Best Minnesota Coaches 2000-2009

The PiPress' list included coaches and managers, so here are my top 3.

1. J Robinson. Gophers' wrestling coach is the best coach in Minnesota by a country mile. Well, no, that's not quite right. Best by a country mile except against this next guy.

2. Mike Hebert, Gophers' volleyball coach, has taken Minnesota to three Final Fours. Minnesota? Volleyball? I thought volleyball was dominated by those sun-kissed girls from the beaches of California and Hawaii. Not anymore.

3. Jacques Lemaire. Jacque and the Wild had a nice run there for awhile. The fact that they went backwards in the end seemed more Risebrough's responsibility than Jacques.'

Minnesota Basketball 2000-2009

Since this is a basketball blog, I'll just point out that Whalen and Garnett at #1 and #4 were pretty prominent on the Minnesota sporting scene, though not so prominent in Whalen's case as to make the Pi Press' top 10.

Is it a surprise that no Gopher men made the list?

1 comment:

  1. This is a great list. I really appreciate people who are willing to stand up for their beliefs and write letters like this. Hopefully this was published. I can't imagine a newspaper neglecting so many great minnesota sports teams! Thank you for writing this. I appreciate it, even if no one else does!